Sunday, April 21, 2019

Jekyll Island - at anchor

Fernandina - not done yet!
We waited an extra day to get the light winds and the weatherman came through, this time at least. It was a great day for traveling with temps in the 70's and full sun. There were no surprises through the shallow areas, I just followed the routes posted in and the least I saw, in just one spot, was 7 MLLW briefly. It was a stress-free trip. Also, we didn't see any dredges today, not even in Sawpit Creek.

Nice access to shore behind the dinghy dock.
Anchoring was another matter. We had a west wind so it was pushing us out into the channel when anchoring on the west shore. We wound up pulling up anchor and re-anchoring further to the west to be sure we were out of the channel given the west wind. Windlasses are made for things like this, no big deal except for consuming time.

As I said before, nice dinghy dock
We plan on a late start, around 9:00, to get a 2 ft tide for Jekyll. It's not dredged all the way yet. We'll find out more on Monday when we pass through. Our next stop is Crescent River anchorage with a sandy beach for Hoolie.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Jacksonville Free Docks - Still here

I just love these 65 ft bridges! It replaced a lift bridge last year at Sisters Creek.
I got up this morning and the first thing I looked at, as usual, was the weather report - particularly the wind prediction. The one I put the most credence in is PredictWind and it was projecting 15 to 20 kts winds with gusts to 30 out of the southwest. If you're running inside, it's no big deal but we would be passing through two inlets, one just north of Fernandina (on the nose) and St Andrews (on the nose too)  just south of Jekyll. Could we do it, sure, have we done it before, sure on that score too - but why? I like to enjoy our ride and we're not married to a schedule. A day or two here and there makes no difference in our getting north. We decided to wait a day and leave on Sunday instead with winds of 5 to 10 kts.

We are not as crowded tonight
After all, we were tied up to a free dock courtesy of Jacksonville, so we just relaxed. I changed the oil on the outboard and would have done the same on the genset except I didn't have enough oil!? Such is planning ahead on a boat, at least for me.

The harbormaster for the two docks came by to ask about a car that had been there for several weeks. We knew we had 72 hours allowed so I asked about the other dock facing Sisters Creek. He said there was a four hour limit on that dock since it's a launch area for fishing boats (that pay for the privilege) and just a few large boats would take up all the room. I couldn't find that rule posted anywhere but he did state it and it makes sense.

Time to walk Hoolie, calming down, finally
I don't know if you noticed or not but there is water on docks now. There are two faucets, one at each end. If you're in the middle, you will need a very long hose.  The wind is finally starting to calm down but it blew all day in the 20kt range. We plan on reaching the Jekyll anchorage Sunday night which has a dinghy dock for Hoolie.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Jacksonville Free Docks - More boats, more rain and wind

It was a day for ducks!
We moved two more boats around to snug them up (like in Coinjock) to make room on the dock. It was a group effort by all those on the dock to help out boaters looking for a safe place before the front came through. We are now full although we are not rafted up yet.

It's full at the inn...There's water on the docks now at both ends of the dock (white pipes)
The front was predicted by all weather services but even so, there were still boats looking for a dock minutes before the storm. Didn't they look at a forecast? We saw winds to 42 kts when the front finally hit early afternoon. Some hail was predicted but we didn't see any, thank goodness - I link my enclosure!

Note the 72 hour maximum stay rule
Ann baked our Easter dinner tonight since we'll be on the move for the next several days. So we had a ham with all the trimmings, very nice. I think it will be ham sandwiches and other ham dishes for a while.

And, a sunset!
On Saturday, we are headed for Jekyll Creek and the anchorage there. We will be arriving on a drain tide with a west wind. The creek ought to be just about dry with all that but we'll have a high tide for the morning departure the next day. We expect to see a dredge there too.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Jacksonville Free Docks - Sisters Creek

Substantial docks!
It was another easy day going north but that is not going to last. A rain front is due through on Friday so we sought out a secure stay for another day and settled on the Jacksonville Free Docks off of Sisters Creek. The docks are floating concrete and very substantial.

On the way, I used the Bob423 route for the exit of Pablo Creek into the St Johns River and found it to be deep and wide. One additional green buoy has been added to prevent you front taking a direct route between greens to the north and south of the new buoy, G5A. The route was perfect but with G5A in place, you could just follow the buoys and be fine too. When I ran the route in the fall, G5A was not there and I ran into a shoal by taking a direct route between the greens.

Almost a full moon, big tides and currents!
We arrived at the Jacksonville Free Docks by 1:00 pm and found a spot. Two powerboats came by later and wanted to tie up too but there was no room at first. However, by moving Fleetwing forward enough, it created enough room for a 50 ft boat behind us. Coming in to occupy that spot was not simple. Both the current and wind was pushing a boat wanting that slip off the dock. It took about six tried before they finally made a successful docking.

Now we are here for the next two days since Friday is predicted to be all rain with high winds, not good for being out on the ICW!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

St Augustine - Dinghy scraping, Outboard repair, We eat at OC Whites

Not fun! I've never seen it so thick!
The first order of business today was scraping the dinghy bottom to get rid of encrusted barnacles from sitting in the warm waters of Titusville for four months! We usually leave out dinghy in the water while we're away with no ill effects but not this time! We use Petit dinghy paint which is water based for compatibility with Hypalon and fiberglass bottoms. For the past eight years, it's been fine but this year it gave way to barnacles about an inch tall! That put one heck of a drag when towing it behind Fleetwing.

A close up of the technique for barnacle removal
St Augustine Marina has a very wide dock facing the bridge so we took advantage of the space to upend the dinghy for bottom access. I had visited an Ace hardware store in the morning and bought heavy duty which could be used with a hammer if needed. Well, I need that hammer, the barnacles are tenacious! They gave way but only after a couple of heavy licks with the hammer on the end of the scraper! It was slow going but I finished by noon.

The next order of business was to get the dinghy motor back which arrived at 5:15 from the repair shop. They picked it up at the marina and returned it too so all I had to do was get it to and from the boat. The problem was a gummed up carburetor. He had to clean it out twice to get it working.

But we topped it all off with a nice dinner at O.C. Seafood
With all that out of the way, it was time for a little R&R. On the advice of our friend Terri, we tried O.C. White's Seafood and Spirits which is right next door to the marina. We both ordered the shrimp which was fresh and cooked just right, recommended.

On Thursday, we're headed for the Jacksonville free docks right off Sister's Creek, hopefully, there will be room for us. Friday will most likely be a layover day since the chance of rain is 100% along with high winds. We'll start out again on Saturday when a spell of good weather is predicted.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

St Augustine - at a dock, Ft Matanzas no drama

Yep, we're in St Augustine, pirates abound
Aqua Map Master with the USACE survey chars makes it ridiculously easy to pass through the shallow spots of the ICW. I already had a gpx route for Ft Matanzas but it was nothing more than plotting the exact deepest water per the USACE survey. It's a help in keeping focus on the best path but the real hero is the USACE survey.  I went through Ft Matanzas with a -0.3 ft drain tide but I had no worries since I knew the survey showed a way through. In fact, I didn't see anything less than 10.5 ft even with the -0.3 drain tide! Of course, you had to carefully follow the gpx route but if you did that, you had no worries. 

Laura and Gail paid a visit this afternoon. They spent the winter in the Bahamas.
They also have a Beneteau 423
I found a shop that would come to the marina to take your outboard back to their shop for repair. They came by at 5:15 and picked up the outboard and will look at it Wednesday. Hopefully, it's only a cleaning out of the fuel lines and nothing more major than that. I'll find out tomorrow. 

We're tucked into the northwest corner of the marina, easy to get in, exciting to get out
I will also tackle the dinghy bottom too, I found some heavy duty tools I had for scraping which I'll use for the scraping. Most of the barnacles are on fiberglass so it's not too bad, I will have to be very careful on the Hypalon.  

The St Augustine marina has fully recovered. All slips are in place and everything works. It was always the best marina for nearness to downtown and we intend to enjoy that on Wednesday. Whether we leave as planned on Thursday will depend on whether the outboard has been repaired or not. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Bethune Park - at anchor, windlass jams, dinghy motor won't start

The iPad Pro 12.9 makes a great chartplotter! Here it shows both Navionics SonarChart and Aqua Map,
try doing that with any chartplottrer. 
We got off in good season from Titusville just by backing out all the way to the entrance. There was no future in trying to turn with a strong north wind but backing out was fine. Our dinghy with all the barnacles slowed us down. The dinghy was new this year and I used the usual bottom paint formulated for dinghies which I used before. What I think happened was the new fiberglass bottom still had mold release on it and so my bottom paint did not adhere. Without any protection, the barnacles grew wild!

Rockhouse Creek is open for business
Next came anchoring which resulted in a jammed windlass. It seems that the manufacturer lined the opening where the rope and chain descend into the locker with a plastic lining - to aid in a free fall of the rode. After 15 years, the plastic lining deteriorated and partially blocked the opening, causing the rode to jam. After a couple of hours of sawing at the tough plastic lining, I finally got it out. The opening is larger without the lining and the rode drops more easily.

Bethune Park dinghy dock is still not repaired after two years! I used a nearby sandy beach.
Then it came time to take Hoolie ashore. Pull, pull, no motor start. Pull some more, same thing. The spark plug looked dry when I removed it for inspection so there was no gas reaching the cylinder. Plenty of gas was coming in from the tank but it wasn't reaching the cylinder. Fuel filter? Carburetor?  It's my next project, fun, fun. I had lots of practice rowing the dinghy tonight.

A peaceful evening, St Augustine Tuesday
Ponce de Leon had been dredged so there were no problems there, at least 11 ft MLLW. Aqua Map Master with the USACE maps is a joy to use, super clear on the depths. If you have a route in, it will display the next lift bridge distance and ETA. It was handy today in not getting to the George Munson Bridge in New Smyrna Beach, Florida too soon. With a 2 kt current, you wanted to arrive just in time and not have to do donuts waiting for the opening.

Tuesday is St Augustine for two days to explore the town and, now, to get the dinghy back into shape and perhaps shave a few barnacles off the bottom too.